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Special General Meeting – USS proposed changes

Southampton UCU held a special General meeting on 11 September to highlight the proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.  The meeting was attended by approximately 60 members and provoked a lively and interesting debate with members who showed real concern about the impact of the proposals.  After all, your pension is deferred pay – it is part of your overall pay package.

The Employers’ consultation is based on a Hybrid.  This will redefine the way that the salary link for past service is worked out from a link to the individual members’ final salary to CPI.  All future service (for all members) will be based on a core defined benefit scheme modelled on the current career-average scheme for new starters up to a cap (the example given is £40k).  Above the cap, members and employers could contribute to a defined contribution scheme.

The powerpoint presentation can be found here:

140911 Southampton UCU GM on USS

A UCU conference on USS has been called for Friday 19 September to discuss these proposals and to plan our way forward.  We will update members following this meeting.

We cannot stress enough that if these proposals go ahead they will have a serious impact on YOUR pension.  Please encourage your non-member colleagues to join UCU – the more members we have the stronger the voice.


Southampton UCU Annual General Meeting – 1.00pm, 19 June 2014

USS pension scheme – more proposed changes afoot

Members of Southampton UCU are invited to attend the branch Annual General Meeting which is being held from 1.00pm – 2.30pm on Thursday 19 June in room 34/3001 (education building), Highfield.

The meeting will discuss the rumoured proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.  These changes, if implemented, will have serious implications for your pensions and we would like an opportunity to hear your views.  We shall be joined by Dennis Leech, Professor of Economics at Warwick University, who will discuss the potential impact of these changes and what this means to you. 

The recent Times Higher article discusses the end of final salary pension and a move to the career average scheme, a cut of 6% in pension received under the CARE scheme and an increase in pension contributions.   Read it here: 

Please come along and join in the discussion.

Also at the meeting, we shall be electing officers to the local Executive committee.  If you would like to nominate yourself for one of the posts please contact Amanda at for a nomination form.  Posts for election are:  President, Honorary Secretary, Membership and campaigns secretary, Honorary Treasurer, Safety officer, Environmental officer, Equality officer, fixed term contract officer, postgraduate and SUSU liaison officer, academic-related staff officer, and four ordinary member posts. 

We look forward to seeing you on 19 June.

Southampton UCU General meeting – 1pm Weds 26 March, room 27/2003

The next UCU General meeting is taking place on Wednesday 26 March from 1.00pm – 2.30pm in room 27/2003.  The main topic of the meeting will be the upcoming marking boycott and we shall be joined by Terry Hoad, UCU HE committee member.  We would encourage you to come along and share your views with us.


Members are invited to meet with UCU’s National Pensions Official, Geraldine Egan, on 21 January at University of Winchester, 11.30am, The Boardroom, University Reception.   

Geraldine will be giving a short overview of UCU’s campaign to reverse the changes to the TPS and USS pensions and to comment on the future of FE and HE pensions in the longer term.  This will be followed by a question & answer session

ALL UCU members are welcome

More details can be obtained from the branch secretary, or 07911 – 737960

Please confirm your intention to attend by emailing

Southampton UCU General meeting – 1pm Wedneday 27 November

Dear members

Southampton UCU will be holding the next General Meeting on Wednesday  27 November from 1.00 – 2.30pm in room 45/2040 Lecture room A.

The discussion at the meeting will consider the broad theme of “Investing in Staff”.  This will include an update on the current pay claim and Action Short of a Strike and planned Strike action in support of the pay claim. We have invited a speaker from the National Executive Committee of UCU and will confirm details soon. 

As well as this pressing matter we would also like to discuss some of the issues raised by the UCU survey of staff and other activity in the University captured by the theme ‘making the university a better place to work’.  In particular we would like to explore ways of encouraging the University to invest in and value its staff including ideas on local campaigns such as ‘reclaim your lunch hour’ and more social spaces for staff.   We value your views and ideas so please come along and share them with us.

If you would like to submit any motions for consideration at the meeting, please send these to by Friday 22 November.

Special General meeting – 13:00 – 14:30 Wednesday 18 September room 58/1007

UCU members are invited to attend a Special General meeting to discuss the 2013/2014 National Pay Claim. 

We will be joined by a member of the UCU HE team who will discuss the outcome of the recent members’ consultative ballot and plans for industrial action.    

The claim includes a pay offer that matches inflation and starts to address the four year erosion in your pay; a national agreement on workloads and working hours guidance; nationally agreed measures to avoid compulsory redundancy and to address the gender pay gap; all hourly paid staff to be put on the national pay spine; and an agreement on disability leave. 

We would like to encourage an open discussion so please come along and have your say.

Happy 65th Birthday NHS!

Today our friends from the Southampton and South-West Hampshire Trades Union Council held a birthday celebration for the NHS, which turns 65 today.  Long may it continue!  Pictures are below.  For those who want to help protect the NHS from privatisation, please get in touch with Keep Our NHS Public — they have a branch in Southampton and meet regularly to campaign on NHS-related issues.

To follow the activities of the Trades Union Council in Southampton you can check out their Facebook page.  If you wish to become a delegate to the TUC, please contact the UCU office.

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Eric Silverman

Southampton UCU President

Draft Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 27 June 2013, Room 58/1009

Present:   Chair – Eric Silverman (ES), Honorary Treasurer – David Chillingworth (DC), Honorary Secretary – John Langley (JL) and 43 members of Southampton UCU

1      Apologies: 6 apologies received.

2      Minutes of Annual General Meeting held on 28 June 2012. These were accepted as a true record.

3      Chair’s report 2012/13
ES ran through the events of the past year.

ES noted that nationally UCU was very busy responding to pressures facing higher education – a particular campaign to note was the one against the spread of zero hours contracts. There has been a drop in membership nationally and associated budgetary problems which members have been informed of in national newsletters.  On the horizon is the prospect of industrial action on pay.

Local issues faced this year include:

  •  responding on the Academic Pay and Reward project (Catherine Pope gave an update on this); 
  • fighting for FTC and hourly paid staff pushed into zero hours contracts after asking for permanency;
  • supporting members regarding contract changes made as part of preparation for  REF2014;
  • increased case work associated with redundancy threats, REF and bullying and harassment.

UCU continues to fight against casualisation and over use of FTCs, and continues to build a strategy on this, notably on issues around equality.  

Southampton UCU needs to recruit more staff at level 7 to ensure that the University negotiates with us about their terms and conditions – at present the University wants to force these staff to use DAP (new appraisal) process which has been successfully blocked for levels 4-6. 

Bullying and harassment and stress: we continue to be concerned about these issues and the casework load centred on these issues.  We are negotiating about the stress policy with the University and participating in a wellbeing taskforce to ensure progress. 

Beyond the branch  

ES attends local Trades Union Council meetings for the branch. We have 5 delegate spaces so please contact us if you wish to attend. 

Recruitment and volunteers 

We need more members – caseworkers in particular are needed. Excellent training is provided to support these volunteers. We also need new ‘Workplace Contacts’ in each faculty/building to act as first point of contact and raise awareness of UCU. 

UCU strategy day will be held in September (date to be advised).  All welcome to attend. 

We have co-opted a new SUSU post grad liaison to help raise awareness and to share information with our Students’ Union colleagues. 

The fixed term contract working group is seeking more volunteers to assist their work trying to improve job security.  

4          Finance report
DC reported on the accounts for last year (paper circulated at the meeting).  Noted that the branch needs to raise more funds. There was a discussion about communications and awareness raising of the work of UCU. Laurie Stras noted the reduced rate for students offered by the Musicians’ Union. ES noted that PGR students could join UCU for free.

5          Nominations and elections of branch officers
As there was one candidate for each post these were duly elected. 

President:                                                            Eric Silverman
Honorary Secretary:                                      John Langley
Honorary Treasurer:                                      Catherine Pope
Health and Safety Rep:                                   Stuart Heron
Equality Rep:                                                     Ronise Nepomuceno
Environmental Rep:                                        Tim Chown
Fixed-Term Contract Rep:                            Joe Viana
Academic-Related Staff Rep:                       David Kinnison
Post-Graduate & SUSU Liaison Rep (co-opted):    George Disney
Ordinary Members:                                         Fiona Harvey, Mary Morrison, Denis Nicole, Laurie Stras

ES welcomed new reps and noted that DC was standing down as treasurer after many years’ dedicated service, and that Adam Warren environmental rep was standing down. ES thanked them for their contributions. 

6          Motions

Motion 1 – Cease the abuse of zero hours contracts
Southampton UCU notes that the University has begun moving hourly-paid lecturers who ask for permanency onto zero-hours contracts, in which there are no guaranteed hours of employment.  This devalues the immensely important work of these members of staff, who are dedicated to their roles and work very hard to educate our students.  We call upon the University to fulfil its legal obligations under European law, as affirmed by the European Court of Criminal Justice, to provide permanent contracts which do not impose worse terms and conditions than their previous fixed-term employment.

Further, we call upon the University to properly recognise the contribution of part-time and hourly-paid lecturers at this University, and to properly reward and compensate staff for the substantial time and effort they spend both inside and outside of the lecture theatre.

Proposer:              Eric Silverman             Seconder:  Catherine Pope                    Passed unanimously

Motion 2 – Solidarity for University of Liverpool staff
Southampton UCU notes that some 2,800 staff at the University of Liverpool are facing threats of dismissal if they refuse to accept new contracts with worse terms and conditions, including weekend, evening and Bank Holiday working without due recompense.  The University is also breaking its own local agreements with Liverpool UCU regarding redundancy consultation by providing a consultation period of only 45 days rather than the agreed 90 days.

We at Southampton UCU wish to express our solidarity for those staff under threat in Liverpool.  We call upon the University to withdraw the threat of dismissal and return to the table for negotiations immediately.  We believe this unprecedented action to be unconscionable and we offer our unconditional support to those affected. 

Proposer:              Eric Silverman             Seconder:  Catherine Pope                    Passed unanimously

The formal business concluded and was followed by an update from Catherine Pope on the Pay and Reward Project. There was discussion around the issues raised.

JL reported on the initial analysis of the UCU staff survey.  Members agreed that concerns arising from this survey should be taken to JNC and UEG. Staff club question put to the meeting and overwhelmingly the members agreed that it would be preferable to have a space for staff and PGRs only (one abstention by a colleague not based at Highfield). A member asked if future surveys could also ask how many people take their full annual leave as this was an important issue. Volunteers to help analyse the data were sought and Roger Ingham and Mark Weal kindly agreed to assist. JL noted that the survey would inform the branch strategy day.